Raymond B. Roemer was a flight engineer with the Robert Mitchell crew. They were in the 515 squadron.
He wrote the following about the May 23, 1944 mission:
"We slept later that day because the target was not a long one. Briefing promised that it would be an easy one. That should have been a warning to us . We were loaded with 1000 pounders and the Target was the Supreme Headquarters, German Forces. North of the Anzio Beach Head.
San Pancrazio was a neat place to fly from. The weather was warm that spring and on one occasion we went swimming in sight of Roman watchtowers on a sandy beach. The next day we would be at 20,000 feet and 30 degrees below zero, thinking about the warm weather.
We were flying on the left side of the lead ship in our element and we approached the target area from the water (the Bay of Naples). We started the run and then at the last second aborted. When the bomb load is released the lightened ship lifts up and away. This time for whatever reason we turned, did not drop and started a climb.
The weight of the full load made us slow and in the turn the ship on the right side of our element took a hit. It tore out a section of the fuselage from the trailing edge of the wings back on the waist windows. Someone remarked on inter-com "You could drive a Jeep through that hole".
The B24 is constructed with a main spar that begins at the rear of the flight deck then forms the catwalk continuing on to the waist section dividing at the Ball-turret and main hatch and ending at the tail turret. When I looked at that hole, the only thing holding the tail empennage to the rest of the ship was the main spar sections. Their radio was out and several of the crew was in wounded in the waist. The control cables run through the main spar in a channel then straddle the main hatch and Ball then continuing on to the tail section. The hole had severed these cables. They were in rough shape. No time to salvo and be sure not to hit friendly troops. So the entire element broke off from the rest of the formations and headed out to the water. Mitch and the other lead ship pilot opted to fly wing and contact Naples for an emergency landing.
The Pilot of the severely damaged ship with dead and wounded aboard salvoes over the water then started a controlled descent turning slowly, now leading the element. Mt Vesuvius was on our right with a plume of smoke rising above us. Suddenly the spar could not hold any longer and the ship dived in to the green slope of the huge mountain. By the time we made a 180 only a black mark on the ground marked the spot.
There were 11 men on board that fateful ship. The usual 10 man crew and 1 photographer. Mitch writes in his notes for the mission. They dove straight down and burst into flames. No survivors. Gallagher and Fuller, two swell fellows. The worst was watching them clean out them tent that night and try to not remember. Other accounts of this crew who all received the Silver Star are in Walker's book. I will always remember them and the brave men that showed the fondness and fellowship for their crew. It is something that only a crewmember understands."